Aggressive Chinese Coast Guard Attacks Philippine Vessel in West Philippine Sea

MIGHT OVER RIGHT The Unaizah May 4, a Philippine supply boat, sustains heavy damage when two Chinese Coast Guard vessels fired water cannons near Ayungin Shoal at 8:38 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2024, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said. VIDEO COURTESY OF PCG
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The attack on the Philippine vessel by the Chinese Coast Guard ships has raised tensions in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. This incident is just one of many in a long-standing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over the Ayungin Shoal. The Ayungin Shoal, also known as the Second Thomas Shoal, is a strategic location that is claimed by both countries. It is located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, but China asserts its historical rights over the area.
The attack on the UNAIZAH, the Philippine vessel carrying supplies for Filipino troops stationed at the Ayungin Shoal, is a clear violation of international law. The use of water cannons by the Chinese Coast Guard ships not only caused heavy damage to the UNAIZAH but also put the lives of the personnel on board at risk. This aggressive action by the Chinese Coast Guard is part of a pattern of harassment and intimidation against Philippine vessels in the area.
The Chinese Coast Guard’s collaboration with the Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) further complicates the situation. The CMM, composed of civilian fishing vessels, has been used by China as a paramilitary force to assert its presence and control over disputed areas. Their involvement in harassing, blocking, and executing dangerous maneuvers against the Philippine Routine Rotation and Resupply (RORE) mission is a clear indication of China’s aggressive tactics in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has repeatedly raised its concerns over China’s actions in the South China Sea to the international community. However, the response from the international community has been mixed, with some countries expressing support for the Philippines’ territorial claims, while others have maintained a neutral stance. The United States, in particular, has expressed its concern over China’s assertiveness in the region and has called for a peaceful resolution to the disputes.
As tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea, it is imperative for all parties involved to exercise restraint and engage in diplomatic dialogue to find a peaceful and mutually beneficial resolution. The attack on the Philippine vessel is a stark reminder of the need for a rules-based order in the South China Sea, where disputes are settled through peaceful means and in accordance with international law. The international community must come together to ensure the freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in this vital maritime region.

Provocative Actions by Chinese Maritime Forces

The PCG stated that at 6 a.m., a CCG vessel made a dangerous maneuver by crossing the bow of the UNAIZAH. An hour later, the same vessel conducted a reverse blocking maneuver, causing a near collision as the UNAIZAH approached the Ayungin Shoal. Shortly after, the PCG vessel MRRV 4409 was encircled and impeded by the CCG vessel and two Chinese militia ships.

The PCG condemned these actions, stating that the Chinese maritime forces have shown a disregard for the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). Before 8 a.m., the CCG started blasting water cannons at the UNAIZAH, deliberately targeting and hitting the supply boat. This is the same vessel that sustained damage during a previous water cannon incident by the CCG earlier this month, resulting in injuries to four Filipino navy crew members.

The incident between the Chinese and Filipino maritime forces is just one example of the escalating tensions in the South China Sea. The Ayungin Shoal, where the near collision occurred, is a disputed territory claimed by both China and the Philippines. China’s aggressive actions in the region, including the encirclement and impeding of the PCG vessel, are seen as a blatant violation of international maritime laws.

The PCG’s condemnation of the Chinese maritime forces’ behavior highlights the growing concern among Southeast Asian nations about China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. These actions not only pose a threat to the safety of vessels in the area but also undermine the principles of freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

The use of water cannons by the CCG against the UNAIZAH is particularly concerning, as it demonstrates a willingness to use force and intimidation tactics to assert dominance in the disputed waters. The repeated targeting of the supply boat, which had already been damaged in a previous incident, further exacerbates the tensions between the two countries.

The Philippines, along with other Southeast Asian nations, has been calling for a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea disputes through dialogue and adherence to international laws. However, China’s provocative actions continue to hinder progress in resolving these issues diplomatically.

The international community has also expressed concern over China’s behavior in the South China Sea. The United States, in particular, has been vocal in its support for freedom of navigation and has conducted regular freedom of navigation operations in the region to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims.

As tensions escalate, it becomes imperative for all parties involved to exercise restraint and engage in meaningful dialogue to prevent any further escalation of the situation. The South China Sea is a vital waterway for international trade, and any conflict in the region would have far-reaching consequences for global security and stability.

The reckless and dangerous actions by China in the West Philippine Sea have raised serious concerns among the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS). The NTF-WPS has strongly criticized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their unprovoked aggression, coercion, and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine RORE mission to the Ayungin Shoal. These actions not only put the lives of Filipinos at risk but also caused severe damage to property and resulted in physical harm to those on board the UNAIZAH.
In response to the situation, the injured crew members received immediate medical attention aboard the MRRV 4409. Despite facing repeated attempts by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) to obstruct and impede the RORE mission, the Philippine contingent successfully completed their mission at approximately 11:59 a.m. The contingent then left the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal at around 12:09 a.m., ensuring the safety of their personnel and the completion of their objectives.
As of press time, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels are en route back to port, with the UNAIZAH being towed alongside. The NTF-WPS remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting Philippine sovereignty and ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens. The dangerous actions taken by China not only violate international laws and norms but also pose a threat to regional stability and security. The Philippines will continue to assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea and seek diplomatic solutions to address these ongoing challenges. The actions of the PRC in the waters of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) have not only been illegal but also highly irresponsible. Despite claiming to prioritize peace, dialogue, and adherence to international law, the PRC has consistently engaged in activities that contradict these principles. The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) has strongly condemned the PRC’s systematic and continuous violations, calling attention to the need for immediate action.
National Security Adviser and NTF-WPS Chairman Eduardo Año has recognized the urgency of the situation and has requested a meeting with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and the National Security Cluster. Their objective is to present recommendations to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., urging him to address the escalating tensions caused by China’s unlawful actions.
The PRC’s disregard for reasonable and legal restraints is evident in its persistent encroachments into the Philippine EEZ. This not only undermines the sovereignty of the Philippines but also poses a threat to regional stability. The Filipino people, as well as the international community, have witnessed the PRC’s blatant disregard for established norms and regulations.
By continuing to assert its dominance in the waters of the Philippine EEZ, the PRC is sending a clear message that it does not recognize any limitations on its actions. This brazen behavior not only undermines the efforts of neighboring countries to maintain peace and stability but also raises concerns about China’s long-term intentions in the region.
The NTF-WPS’s call for urgent action reflects the gravity of the situation. It is imperative for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address these issues promptly and assertively. The Philippines must assert its rights and defend its interests in accordance with international law. Moreover, it is crucial for the international community to come together and condemn the PRC’s illegal and irresponsible actions, ensuring that the principles of peace, dialogue, and adherence to international law are upheld.
In conclusion, the PRC’s illegal and irresponsible actions in the waters of the Philippine EEZ demand immediate attention and action. The NTF-WPS, led by National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, has called for a meeting with key officials to present recommendations to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It is essential for the Philippines and the international community to stand united in condemning the PRC’s violations and upholding the principles of peace, dialogue, and adherence to international law.

Source: The Manila Times

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